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Wood: Government Departments

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an estimate of the proportion of wood-based products procured by the Government and its agencies in the last 12 months which come from (a) Forest Stewardship Council-certified sources, (b) Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme-certified sources, (c) other timber certification schemes and (d) non-certified sources; and what mechanisms are in place to monitor compliance with his Department's Buy Sustainable - Quick Wins minimum environmental product standards. (309673)

From 1 April 2009 all timber and timber derived products purchased by the UK Government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies must comply with the UK Government's timber procurement policy. Only legal and sustainable or FLEGT licensed timber and wood products should be purchased. No distinction is made between forest certification schemes, and also no distinction between certification and other forms of evidence.

Guidance is available on how to ensure purchased timber meets the UK Government legality and sustainability criteria. Please see the document "UK Government timber procurement policy: Definition of 'legal' and 'sustainable' for timber procurement (TPAN April 2009) on the CPET website at:

A recent report, ‘UK Timber Industry Certification' by Timbertrends, concluded that in 2008 the proportion of certified products available to the UK timber supply chain by forest certification scheme was distributed as follows: FSC 51.5 per cent.; PEFC 31.5 per cent.; other schemes 0.5 per cent.; and 33.2 per cent. not certified. We assume that the proportion of certified timber and wood products purchased (with category A evidence) by the public sector reflects availability and with two thirds being FSC and one third being PEFC.

This proportion also corresponds with CPETs experience. It should however be noted that the report quoted assessed the timber industry and for other product groups such as paper and furniture the proportions might not be the same.

Furthermore, a recent study conducted by DEFRA and CPET ‘timber reporting pilot study' published July 2009 and available on the CPET website

showed that implementation of reporting requirements across mandated bodies is not currently possible, but that assurance of implementation and compliance with the policy is a first step towards achieving meaningful data.

DEFRA in conjunction with CPET has also started an awareness raising campaign and support program across Central Government as well as encouraging local authorities and the remainder of the public sector to voluntarily adopt the UK Government timber procurement policy.

Support for delivery and compliance with Quick Wins, by central government departments, is overseen by the Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement (CESP) in the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).